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Agency publishes very similar job in Proz after I refuse to translate a 300-word test for free
Thread poster: Alfredo Fernández Martínez

Alfredo Fernández Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:26
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 24, 2008

Yes fellows, this is the kind of experience one is just waiting to happen...

The agency, a US Big one, contacts me directly, and NOT through Proz...
The offer, ENG > SPA from Spain, a large project for August, just under my rate, plus the (in)famous Trados discounts... 50% for fuzzy, 25% for 100 % match...
As per usual I must do a test, a 300 words one for them.
The only needed acceptance from my part of these rates, to send off the test to me, and to start including me in the project.

I kindly reply, stating before anything, that the test must be paid for, as it is a professional piece of work, it must be written properly, it must be proof-read, etc.

No answer ever since.

And today... Surprise, surprise! A very similar offer indeed, from the same Big company, but from their UK branch this time, via the Connect Jobs feature of Proz...

In all honesty, fellow translators:
Would you ask the agency, whether the payment for the test was the hurdle between me and the project?

Feel free to elaborate...

In the meantime...as I am a bit fed up of ranting... I might as well lay down cosy in my sofa this evening, and forget all about them... Go out with my friends...
Summer has come, after all, and I have other jobs ongoing...

Thank you all,

Alfredo


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Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 01:26
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
hmm Jul 24, 2008

You know, many agencies never ever give any feedback on the tests you sent.

You can send 100000000 emails asking for feedack...No answer.

I was thinking about a sort of PO, where they could insert : Free, but with a return date.

Agency: XXX
Job: XXX test
WC: 300 words
Return Date: xxx (30 days maximum)


[Edited at 2008-07-24 17:45]


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Elías Sauza  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 22:26
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Translation tests Jul 24, 2008

In my experience, translation tests have always led exactly to the same place: nowhere. They never helped me to establish any working relationship. It seems that they have always hid something fishy.

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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:26
Member (2004)
English to Polish
One of the tools... Jul 24, 2008

Elías Sauza wrote:

In my experience, translation tests have always led exactly to the same place: nowhere. They never helped me to establish any working relationship. It seems that they have always hid something fishy.


My experience is exactly opposite. I feel that the tests I have done greatly helped me to convince my clients that I know enough of the subject (and that my translation skills are sufficient) to do the job.

CVs may be, umm, slightly misleading, a list of jobs done not always is that helpful, either (at least if the prospective client cannot contact your previous clients to make sure they were happy with it).

Some of tests were paid, some of them were not - I do not mind doing a short test if the client looks good and the project seems interesting. I treat it as an investment...

[Edited at 2008-07-24 18:22]


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xxxUSER0059  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 06:26
English to Finnish
+ ...
Automatically dispose of work-for-free solicitations? Jul 24, 2008

Elías Sauza wrote:

In my experience, translation tests have always led exactly to the same place: nowhere. They never helped me to establish any working relationship. It seems that they have always hid something fishy.


I would like to see “must provide a free translation test” as a job posting option, so that one would be able to filter out such postings altogether.


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Liv Fridtjofsen  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:26
Member (2008)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Tired of tests Jul 24, 2008

I am sooooo tired of tests! Why should we do them for free?

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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:26
Member
English to French
Marketing investment? Jul 24, 2008

Liv Fridtjofsen wrote:
I am sooooo tired of tests! Why should we do them for free?

I view this just as a call for tenders in the industry sector. Take a service provider replying to a large call for tender, a tedious task that can require a lot of time and research: they don't know if they will be selected, and they usually pay to be able to bid.

I also invest time with prospective customers when they approach me, and that may include 30/45 minutes translating a test piece. I can undergo a 30-euro loss if it leads to an ongoing and sound relationship.
For my effort to be worthwhile in the grand scheme of things, I no longer do tests whenever I am asked to. I need to have an edge in the subject matter at hand and fit the requirements. The agency must have agreed to my pricing. I need to have been contacted in person from the start. I need to have a good feeling about the agency and the PM on the first few communications.
Had I asked to be paid for such tests, I would certainly have lost some interesting and properly paid business. Or not. But as long as the success rate keeps me happy with this pick-or-pack strategy (which could mean pick prospects of interest and send others - gently - packing), I don't see why I should divert from it.

You chose to stick to the no-free-test policy, which is another way of managing a business. The agency requests free tests for whatever reason, and they can't be bothered with applicants who won't have any of it. So yes, it must have been an anticlimax for them, and they didn't want somebody who was not interested in investing 30 minutes of their time to show they were up to par (and therefore qualified at once as the "pain in the neck of the week" from the onset by not complying with their procedures). It may have been how they contemplated your payment requirement.

In a parallel universe, you did it for free and won the job. Or not. Or asked to be paid if you qualified. What's the best way to go? You decide.

Good night,
Philippe


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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:26
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Communication Jul 24, 2008

Test are not a problem. However:

In all industries in the world, people communicate openly with each other. Period. Engineers, writers, etc. When they don't communicate, Challenger happens. Or many errors happen.
In the translation "industry" there's secrecy. That's because you have elementary school teachers (Outsourcers) and elementary school students (Translators). They "test" each other, exactly as in elementary school.

In the translation industry, which doesn't have the size of the auto-industry or other industries, all information is Top-Secret. "Who did this translation?" Top Secret. "Who will edit?" Top Secret.

The reason we see so many errors in published translations, is the lack of communication between editors and translators and the overall “veil of secrecy” to protect Top Secret information such as the manual for a tractor.

What a childish situation really... what a childish full of nonsense industry it has become... what a high cost all these immature people have caused... Typical result of the average age of the people running it... even the weapons industry is much more open to exchange of information (they have to, to ensure quality in their products). It's probably because of all the kids in the industry and the elementary school mentalities. Was I working for NASA, I would know the manufacturers of each and every step and each and every part. Not if I translate, since everything (including beach towel labels) is Top Secret (!!!).

Ah, and something else. What a ridiculous thing that “rate calculator” of Proz. Henry, take it down, you don't want your name to be associated with such a ridiculous calculator. It doesn’t take into consideration that you can't be translating continuously, it doesn't take into consideration the difficulty of jobs and millions of other factors involved in every day work. It's highly misleading to the new translators. Have you ever seen a “rate calculator” at a lawyer’s website? Of course not. Every one of us has a Casio on our desks. We don't need that. It gives the impression that it's something more "reliable" than a Casio. It's not. It's highly misleading.

In conclusion:

a) Tests are NOT a problem (especially when they' re only 300 words).

b) On the issue of lower prices etc. Get used to it, eveybody. Every single prediction I made about rates 5 years ago was correct. Take it as information from an insider: rates will go down 40% of what they are now, within the next 2 years.

c) On information and communication between translators and editors: It's VITAL for the quality of the project, and has to become standard practice.



[Edited at 2008-07-24 21:27]


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casey
United States
Local time: 23:26
Member
Japanese to English
That's my strategy, too. Jul 25, 2008

Philippe Etienne wrote:

For my effort to be worthwhile in the grand scheme of things, I no longer do tests whenever I am asked to. I need to have an edge in the subject matter at hand and fit the requirements. The agency must have agreed to my pricing. I need to have been contacted in person from the start. I need to have a good feeling about the agency and the PM on the first few communications.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 11:26
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Translation: Buyer's market? Jul 25, 2008

Is translation a fair transaction between counterparts?
Is translation a buyer's or seller's market? Who occupies the marketplace?
Easy accepting of test and easy accepting of low price rate will deteriorate the business more and more.
This is my perception now.
Why not offer your work sample instead of test translation for free?

Regards,
Soonthon L.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:26
Flemish to English
+ ...
Insider? Jul 25, 2008

Tests: Except politicians,who are elected, selection procedures are a part of the normal world if you apply for a job.
Insider into what, where, which segment of the o-so fragmented global translation market populated with mostly egocentric suppliers.
As for the rate-calculator: It is a basic tool. Don't complain, make an excel-spreadsheet including other variables.




[Edited at 2008-07-25 07:03]


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:26
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some tests, but not all Jul 25, 2008

I agree with Philippe wholeheartedly, especially in that they must have agreed to my price before I do the test, otherwise why bother? And also with his comment as to the general "feel" of it all - if you get the impression you're being set up for a stiffing, you're probably right.

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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:26
Member (2004)
English to Italian
recently Jul 25, 2008

a big agency sent me a test to do for free. I occasionally do them, if I like the subject and I have enough time. But this agency refused to discuss rates beforehand, so I declined/said I would do the test if they paid me. Obvioulsy, no reply. This is a very unprofessional attitude, which undermine our category. These agencies should be avoided like the plague...

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FarkasAndras
Local time: 05:26
English to Hungarian
+ ...
of course Jul 25, 2008

You refused their terms, so they went to look for someone else. What's to wonder about?

IMO a 300 word test, doing which should take about an hour, is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask. (If this is a trustworthy company and a large project is on the horizon.) You have nothing to rant about.

It seems to me that you were petty here and lost an opportunity because of it. Of course if you don't mind not getting that job, then fine. They were also petty when they refused to pay, but then they may just be unwilling to go to the trouble of doing the administration for such a payment. Again, in an ideal world, they should have told you so.


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:26
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Reply after tests? Jul 25, 2008

I do take tests, once the pricing has been agreed to, but my experience with them is not great. The most weird was when I discovered, in the course of searching for the spelling of a name that occurred in the test, that the outsourcer's test was plagiarized (if you want to call it that), in somewhat shortened form, from an article in the Guardian. I could have just copied and pasted the whole thing into my document and sent it off. I thought this was unethical, so I notified them, and told them that I did the test with reference to the English original, but using my own translation when I thought something could be expressed better that way. That was the last I ever heard from them. (They post on ProZ.)

In another case, we agreed to the price, I did the test, they said the test was fine. But they were unhappy because I wrote to them in English, rather than the source language. I explained that I translate only INTO English, and my writing/speaking ability in the source language is not great. That was the last I ever heard. Of course, it's their prerogative, if they want to hire someone with greater all-around fluency. But it would have been nice to know that before I spent the time on the test (unpaid). It's probably my own fault.

Otherwise:

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:

What a ridiculous thing that “rate calculator” of Proz. Henry, take it down, you don't want your name to be associated with such a ridiculous calculator....It's highly misleading to the new translators


I agree, Eleftherios. The calculator asks you how much you want to make, how long a vacation, etc. I think I'd like to make $100 K a year and spend a month per year in world travel. But how does one make the (rather large) leap to reality? The fact is, that only as a paying member can you access on this site the actual standard of rates in your language pair(s), and decide upon a reasonable rate to charge. This is also the answer to the new translator who wrote in recently, saying she had no idea what to charge for DE-EN translation.

Susan


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